IBM Information Developer - Presence Zones and WebSphere Commerce
People are saying physical retail stores are “dead” but that’s simply not true.
While we are seeing shifts in store vs online frequency, the store continues to be the largest channel and even in instances when items are purchased online it is often a byproduct of an in-store experience with a brand.
So how will you leverage your store as a strategic asset to engage customers? Today, there are several different types of technologies that retailers can use to engage customers in a store. Two indoor positioning technologies that have emerged, and have gained a great deal of market attention, are WiFi and beacons (which use BLE - Bluetooth Low Energy).
WiFi sensing technology has the accuracy up to one meter (~3 feet). WiFi gives you the ability to capture and engage with many customers, due to the fact about 75% of smartphone customers today already have their WiFi turned on. Before the retailer can send a mobile promotion or targeted marketing message, the customer must connect, or “opt-in”. “Opting-in” is a simple registration process selected by the retailer, which the customer gives permission to engage with them on their mobile device. So whether a customer has “opted-in” to engage with you or not, you are able to locate more customers in your stores and gain deep insight to customer shopping patterns and behaviors.
The BLE / beacon technology does not have the same flexibility as WiFi. Currently, with beacons, you know the general proximity of where your customers are located in the store due to their location to a beacon. So when a customer is in the immediate zone of a beacon, their location is definite and a targeted mobile message can be sent to their device.
Beacons allow you to communicate with only the customers who download your mobile application. Once they download your app you have the freedom to engage with those customers and provide a differentiated in-store experience. Beacons allow you to trigger an event on a customer’s mobile device, which could be a promotional notification or related product information.
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